Nordic and Baltic Oscar contender films to screen at 22nd annual "Scandinavian Film Festival - Los Angeles" courtesy of SCANDINAVIA HOUSE in New York; going virtual online on two weekends (January 7 through 10, and January 14 through 17, 2021)
by Oliver Carnay
Scandinavia House, in coordination with Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. and with BalticFilmExpo@SFFLA is pleased to offer virtual screenings of films chosen by the Nordic & Baltic countries to compete for the Oscar nomination for the Best International Feature Film, available to viewers across the U.S. on the weekends of January 7-10 and 14-17, 2021.
This year, the annual Scandinavian Film Festival - Los Angeles (SFFLA) is going virtual due to the pandemic. Yearly held at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, the festival celebrate and screen top feature films and short films (usually Oscar entries for Best Foreign Language Film) from the countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia for cinema lovers based in Los Angeles.
The following are the Oscar contender films included in the program this year. Each film are available to watch between 8 a.m. until midnight on the day each film has verified and opened.
January 7 - 10 2021 (available to watch from 8 a.m. until midnight only):
ANOTHER ROUND (Oscar submission - feature) Druk (Denmark), 2020, 117 minutes, Thomas Vinterberg
The story of four high school teachers, tired and weary of the everyday monotony of their lives. Together, they decide to test the theory, conceptualized by a Norwegian psychologist Finn Skårderund, who contended that a certain constant level of alcohol in the system was required to thrive in society. As the four friends experiment with this theory, Another Round shows how it affects them all quite differently.
AGNES JOY (Oscar submission - feature) (Iceland), 2019, 92 minutes, Silja Hauksdóttir
Rannveig is experiencing burnout in all aspects of her mundane suburban life. She's stuck with a job she hates and a marriage that is slowly dying. On top of that, she's constantly fighting with her rebellious daughter, Agnes, and can't face the possibility of Agnes growing up and leaving her behind. When a new neighbor, Hreinn, shows up at their doorstep, Rannveig and family face new challenges that are beyond their control.
This coming-of-age story is set during WWI between 1915 and 1921, and focuses on Latvian soldiers fighting against different enemies, thus reflecting the complex history of Latvia and the circumstances of the foundation of the independent republic on the backdrop of WWI. After losing his mother and home sixteen-year-old Artūrs decides to join the national Latvian Riflemen battalions of the Imperial Russian army in hopes of finding glory. He goes on to fight where he loses his father and brother and quickly becomes disillusioned. Eventually, Artūrs returns to his newly-proclaimed country of Latvia to start everything from scratch.
THE LAST ONES (Oscar submission - feature) Viimeiset (Estonia), 2020, 117 minutes, Veiko Õunpua
A brutal portrait of the other side of the Lapland dream, very far from the touristic cliches of snowmobile and canoe adventures. Owner of a mine that is falling apart, Kari commands the days and nights of his workers, who he secretly supplies with drugs so that their drunken evenings and their dreams of faraway places can help them forget a little about the bitterness of their existence, the narrowness of their mobile homes, the dangerous tunnels filling with water. However, at surface level, a completely different way of life subsists, that of the reindeer breeders, a small community struggling to make ends meet and progressively disappearing, its last members gathering around campfires while the explosions from the mine echoe in the distance.
January 14 - 17 2021 (available 8 a.m. until midnight)
After a divorce, Alice hasn't seen her children in two months as she awaits a custody verdict. When her son calls her in the middle of the night, Alice takes action, abducting the children on an illicit charter trip to the Canary Islands.
The relationship of artist-partners Tomas and Anja, with a large blended family, breaks down when the wife is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, exposing neglected love. An intimate and original story about a family going through an all-encompassing crisis. In the shadow of sudden and serious illness, the film pays homage to life and love in the encounter with the worst imaginable experience.
NOVA LITUANIA (Oscar submission - feature) (Lithuania), 2019, 96 minutes, Karolis Kaupinis
It's late 1930's. Foreseeing the upcoming war in Europe, Lithuanian geographer Feliksas Gruodis comes up with an idea to save his country by establishing a Lithuanian colony overseas. The plan is a massive exodus to the so called "Reserve Lithuania" in case of occupation. Feliksas tries to sell his idea to one of the most important persons of the state - a grey cardinal of the president, the prime minister Jonas Servus. Dismissing the idea at first, soon the prime minister experiences a heart stroke as the country gets the first signs of war at it's borders. As the president uses his illness to turn him into a scapegoat, the already ex-prime minister gets back to Feliksas, persuades him to reveal his plan and offers his help. The hope to implement the plan doesn't bring much light to Feliksas' personal life. Him and his wife, a childless couple, live in a stiff and cold relationship. As Feliksas finds a fulfilment in his utopia, his wife Veronika finds no way to diminish her loneliness. As Feliksas' political dream comes to realisation, his marriage approaches a collapse. As the country loses the first piece of it's territory, ex-prime minister decides that the only way to implement the plan is to overthrow the president with the help of the military. He invites Feliksas to spend the last night at his home, together with his family. The ideal picture of it makes Feliksas to drop his plan at the last minute and try to save his personal life instead of saving the country.
The Moomins, with their hippo-like silhouettes, are beloved cartoon characters familiar to readers around the globe. But less is known about their creator, the bisexual, Swedish-speaking, Finnish visual artist and author Tove Jansson and her surprisingly unconventional life. Featuring a mesmerizing lead performance by Alma Pöysti, the sensuously textured film concentrates on a formative decade in Tove’s life (from the mid-1940s to mid-’50s) and explores her artistic and personal passions, and the challenges they entail.
Scandinavia House (http://www.scandinaviahouse.org/): The Nordic Center in America is the leading center for Nordic culture in the United States. It offers a wide range of programs that illuminate the culture and vitality of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Scandinavia House offerings include diverse exhibitions and film series, as well as concerts and other performances, readings, lectures, symposia, language courses, and children’s activities.
For complete information and details regarding the 2021 SFFLA or to contact SFFLA staff, please go to this link: sffla.net